Special Photo Challenge: Inspiration

In Pursuit of the Image

We are at Boonah, a small town about 100 kilometres south west of Brisbane in an area they call the Scenic Rim.  And I’m out to try my hand at aerial photography.

This is one of those days when I think check lists are a good thing.  The pilot has one, I’ve got mine.

Pre Flight Check List

  • Leather flight helmet  ….. Cool     
  • Sunglasses  and Goggles ….. nice   
  • Headphones and mic ….. Now I look the part      
  • Seatbelt ….. good idea      √√√
  • Camera ….. that’s what its all about      √√√√
  • Pilot ….. Yep, we need one of them      √√√√√√√√√
  • That thing under the seat ….. MISSING
  • What is it that the pretty hostess says …………  ‘they could be behind you’.  No, no need to worry about the exits, I’ll be hanging on.  That is if I can find something to hang on to.
  • Empty bladder.  No need to elaborate.      √

I’m in the front seat.  The pilot normally sits here but for this trip he’s in the back.  You know what they say about backseat drivers, well on this occasion I put that…..right out of my mind.

I feel like ‘Biggles’ the original super hero, at least to me.  You see I’ve got the ‘Biggles’ helmet, and I’m in an open cockpit just like the Sopwith Pup he used to fly.  Perhaps with a little more legroom …..OK a lot more legroom.  So I am ready to take on the world, well to take some photos anyway.

We start to taxi for takeoff.  Accelerating down the grass runway, faster and faster, noisier and noisier and all I can see in front of me are the bumps in the runway, a couple of bounces and then we are in the air.  We circle around the airdrome steadily climbing under power to our cruising altitude of 4000 ft.

Above the noise of the engine I can hear Greg, my pilot, in the headphones talking to Traffic Control and once we have cleared Boonah airdrome he gives me a commentary on what is going on and points out the landmarks along the way.

It’s an exciting experience sitting in an open cockpit as you soar into the air; its not hard to imagine what it was like for those pioneer aviators in their primitive machines – exposed to the elements, the wind in your face, the drop in temperature as you climb higher and higher, the grind of the engine and the rise and fall of the aircraft as you hit air pockets along with the swaying from side to side as you fight to steer your course against the air currents.  Exhilarating.

Taking photos from what is basically an open seat at 4000 feet is an interesting experience – the inclination is to hang on, not so much out of fear but just to steady yourself.  The camera though needs two hands, the only option I found was to push away from the seat in order to brace myself against the safety harness.  I should say that there was always one thing in the back of my mind though when carrying out this procedure …….

Our flight took us in a southerly direction past Mt Maroon and Mt Barney, two of the tallest and most recognisable peaks in the region, before arriving at Mt Lindesay.

From the ground all you can see is the rock face above the tree line but from the ultralight you get to view this wonderfully symmetrical rock formation that sits like a tiara on top of the mountain.

One circuit around Mt Lindesay and we are on our way back.

Round trip about 80 kilometres and a little over an hour in the air.

Would I do it again.  You bet.

Bucket List

  • Aerial photography from an ultralight aircraft.     √

For more shots from the ultralight click hear

14 Responses to “Special Photo Challenge: Inspiration”

  1. The Palladian Traveler

    Paul – Great post. You’re a DAREDEVIL. Will you be posting more photos? I’d like to more of your photographic “dog fight” with Ma Nature. Btw, did you encounter the Red Baron during the flight?

    • Paul Dean

      Hi Tom – We were pretty much on our own. No bandits appeared out of the sun but I did have my trusty Canon with me just in case. As for mother nature, I do have a couple more image that I will pop up in the next day or so, thanks for asking.

  2. midlifetraveller

    What a thrill Paul. I’ve flown in one just like that with my son but I was in the back seat and didn’t take a camera. I wanted both hands free to hang on to the straps!! You’ve inspired me to take my camera next time and your photos are terrific.

    • Paul Dean

      You just don’t know what you are missing until you have been up in one of those little planes, it’s good fun isn’t it. I look forward to seeing the images next time you fly. Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

  3. bluebrightly

    What a wonderful opportunity – that rock formation is very cool, and it’s great to see it from both angles – I imagine my stomach would drop more than once during a flight like this, but the rewards are great!

    • Paul Dean

      We were fortunate that it was a calm day, with little wind and not a great deal of turbulence. Making it easier to concentrate on the camera and not the contents of my stomach. Thank you Lynn for your comment I appreciate it.


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